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Time runs out for hundreds of bills as Texas House passes key deadline

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Hundreds of bills are likely dead this legislative session as the House crossed a key deadline midnight Friday.

If a bill that originated in the House was not heard by that point, it will likely not be heard again until next legislative session.

House Bill 1399, the controversial bill that would have banned gender-affirming care for transgender kids, was one such bill that died in the House.

House Bill 392, which would have banned hair discrimination on the basis of race in schools, and House Bill 24, which would have allocated funds to school districts to build playgrounds that are accessible to students living with disabilities, were also on the chopping block.

“The clock is much more important in the Texas Legislature because, in most legislatures, you can’t run out the clock on something because, even if you kill it now, it’ll just come back when the legislature returns in September or August,” Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, told KWTX.

“In Texas, however, if you’re able to defeat legislation or keep it from being passed in May 2021, the earliest it can ever be seen again by the Legislature is January or February of 2023,” he said.

Texas is one of only four states in which the Legislature only meets every two years.

Montana, Nevada and North Dakota are the others.

Jones said that lawmakers use the compressed schedule of the legislative session to their advantage.

“One game the House leadership plays is if they want a bill not to pass, but don’t want to have their fingerprints on killing it, they’ll put it on the calendar just late enough such that it won’t be able to be heard and get voted on by midnight,” he said.

The Senate is not bound by the same deadlines as the House.

Some of the proposals in the House bills that have already died could resurface in Senate bills in the last two weeks of the session.

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